March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. It’s important to know and understand the warning signs of this type of cancer. Early detection and diagnosis is vital to increasing your chance of successful treatment. HOPE Cancer Center of East Texas has a team of highly trained, highly skilled doctors, nurses, and staff that provide hope in the fight against cancer with a powerful sense of compassion and dedication to your unique needs.
Your colorectal cancer risk
Approximately four percent of American men and five percent of American women are at risk of developing a form of colon or rectal cancer during their life. Although these percentages seem small, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, not including skin cancers.
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum and usually begins as a small growth, or polyp, on the inner lining of these organs. Luckily, most polyps do not become cancer, but it is important to get regular colon health screenings. Regular screenings allow your doctor to detect any abnormal growths and remove them to reduce your future risk of developing colorectal cancer in the future.
Warning signs of colorectal cancer
One of the early warning signs of colon or rectal cancer is bleeding. As tumors grow, they often cause intermittent bleeding because the blood vessels are fragile. Many people are unable to detect any unusual bleeding in their stool or urine, so regular colon health screenings are very important, especially if you are over 50. Below are a few additional warning signs:
- Suffering from unexplained constipation, diarrhea, or bowel incontinence can be a sign of colon or rectal cancer.
- If you maintain a similar routine each day and suddenly feel tired or sluggish, and rest does not make you feel better, you may have anemia and an increased risk for colorectal cancer. Anemia is a shortage of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
- If you haven’t made any changes to your eating habits or physical activity, but continue to lose weight, you may have already progressed to moderate to severe colorectal cancer and should get proper medical attention.
- Unexplained vomiting or strong gas pains may point to the development colon or rectal cancer.
If you experience any of these symptoms or want to begin taking control of your health before any warning signs appear, we encourage you to schedule a colon health screening with us. The earlier you detect polyps, or colorectal cancer, the better.
Lower your risk of colorectal cancer
By making a few small lifestyle changes now, you can lower your risk of colorectal cancer in the future. These include:
- Fill up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Exercise and lose excess weight
- Avoid tobacco products
- Limit your alcohol consumption
When treated early, it is possible to cure colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is considered cured if it does not recur within five years. If you or someone you know has a family history of colon, rectal, or other cancers, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with HOPE today.